Knuckle-It Pro Match Ball Review

Knuckle-It Pro

9.3

Grip

10.0/10

Weight

9.0/10

Materials

9.0/10

Pros

  • Top-quality construction and performance
  • Mid-range price - comparable to a replica
  • Fully FIFA compliant
  • Unique visual design for enhanced visual feedback during training and play

Cons

  • FIFA has not tested the ball, so you can't use it for official association matches
  • It's not for beginners
  • It's designed for a very specific purpose

I wish we had the Knuckle-It Pro Match Ball when I was a kid. Growing up in England, it seems only natural that I would share the nations passion for the beautiful game – I spent a fair percentage of my youth watching soccer, and an even larger percentage playing it or practicing. As anyone who’s ever experienced real passion would tell you, for every high, there’s a low. For each exalted moment of victory on the pitch, there were hours of sweat and toll.

Of course, you need to work hard to achieve anything in life, but there’s such a thing as working too hard. It takes dedication to gain perfect ball control. But does it have to be so hard?

Of course, there’s no magic shortcut – and that’s not what the Knuckle-It Pro claims to be. Instead, it’s an ingenious solution to a problem that most players overlook, even as it costs them countless hours of hard work. I’m talking about ball visibility.

This ball is named as the best match ball in our Best Soccer Ball guide.

Why High-Visibility is Important

Of course, we can all see the ball when we play – if you couldn’t see the ball, you wouldn’t be trying to master advanced skills. But visibility isn’t an “all or nothing”. Yes, you can see a standard match ball – but how well? Can you see the exact spin and trajectory of the ball as it flies through the air? How about the “sweet spot” – that magic spot on the ball that gives it extra “pop” when you hit it?

Knuckle-It Pro Match Ball - High Visibility

Advanced ball skills (like bending the ball or knuckling it) require fine control over ball spin, as well as hitting the exact “sweet spot” when you kick the ball. It’s pretty hard to do that without accurate visual feedback – with hundreds and hundreds of hours of practice, you’ll eventually get the feel for it – but it’s like learning to shoot in the dark. When you can see exactly what you’re doing, it’s so much easier.

That’s the basic idea behind Bend-It’s balls – including the Knuckle-It Pro. I’ll explain how it works shortly – but before we dive into the details, there’s one thing you need to ask yourself – do you need such a specialized ball?

Knuckle-It Pro Match Ball Review – Is it For You?

Bend-It’s Knuckle-It Pro is for players who want to take their skills to the next level. If you’re a casual player, it’s probably not for you. If you’re trying to get your kids off the sofa and into the sunlight, you could probably get by with a run of the mill ball.

What’s more, although it’s made to FIFA’s precise standards, the association hasn’t officially tested the ball. That means it’s not a valid choice for official matches.

What’s more, the Knuckle-It is only one of the balls in Bend-It’s line up. While they’re all superficially similar, they’re each fine-tuned to improve a specific set of skills – the Knuckle-It Pro is designed to improve dead-ball play. It’s the ball you use when you practice hitting bangers.

Bend-It’s other balls include the Curl-It Pro and the Reverse Curl-It Pro. Overall, the balls are very similar in terms of construction. The difference is in the visual patterns printed on the ball – we’ll get to the logic behind that shortly.

In essence, the KnuckleIt Pro offers these advantages:

  1. Top-quality construction and performance
  2. Mid-range price – comparable to a replica
  3. Fully FIFA compliant
  4. Unique visual design for enhanced visual feedback during training and play

That said, you should be aware of these points:

  1. FIFA has not tested the ball, so you can’t use it for official association matches
  2. It’s not for beginners – there’s no point practicing advanced skills if you haven’t mastered the basics, and no ball will turn a green player into an expert
  3. It’s designed for a very specific purpose – if you want to practice other skills using the same system, you’ll need to get other balls from Bend-It

Knuckle-It Pro Features

Let’s start with the most unique features – the ones that set the Knuckle-It Pro apart from other balls. We’ll also examine the construction.

Valve Position Marker

Every experienced footballer knows that match balls have a “sweet spot” – that exact point that seems to magnify your kick and make your shot more powerful. It’s actually not rocket science – the sweet spot is the small area where the valve meets the panel. It’s the hardest part of the ball, so less of the energy from your kick is wasted. That’s why the ball “pops”.

Knuckle-It Pro Match Ball - Valve Position Marker

Of course, it can be hard to hit the sweet spot every time – it’s a tiny, hard-to-see target. That’s why Bend-It’s balls have a VPM – or Valve Position Marker.

Visual Response Color

Earlier in this article, I mentioned how important it is to get visual feedback when you’re learning a new skill. That’s where BendIt’s unique “visual response color” technology comes in. The idea is simple – certain colors and patterns make it easier to track motion. You can see the ball’s movement, rotation and the way it bends. It’s much more accurate than just squinting at the ball.

Check out this video for a quick explanation and slow-motion examples:

12-Panel Construction

Most match balls are constructed from 32 panels. The Knuckle-It Pro is made from 12. While that may sound less impressive, it’s actually a case of “less means more”. You see, using fewer panels actually increases the Magnus Effect.

What’s that? The Magnus Effect is the science that explains how spin affects the way a ball travels and curves through the air. It’s pretty amazing – check out this video for a neat explanation:

So, with fewer panels, you get a more responsive ball that’s easier to control. Fewer panels also mean fewer seams – seams are the weak spot in any ball, so fewer seams will result in a more durable ball.

Rugged Structure

While match balls were traditionally stitched, it’s not the best way to join the panels. Over time, stress and strain work to loosen the stitches, causing the ball to distort and buckle. It starts to sag, becomes less responsive, and picks up aerodynamic drag. Basically, it feels and performs like a wet sack of moldy old potatoes.

That’s why Bend-It decided to use thermal bonding – the panels are basically “welded” together. They don’t deform or sag under normal use.

The ball is made up of 4 inner layers, cocooned within a high-grip 100% polyurethane finish. At the core, a butyl bladder ensures excellent air retention and high bounce.

Fully Compliant

The ball is designed to match the exacting specifications from multiple bodies, including:

This makes it an ideal ball for professionals and players with serious aspirations – if you want to play professionally, you need to know your way around a real match ball.

All told, the specifications sound very impressive. But then again, every manufacturer’s specifications look good on paper – the important question is how does the ball perform in real life?

Public Opinion

When I wrote this review, I wanted to present a balanced opinion. It didn’t want the review to be biased by my own experiences – so I scoured the web to learn about other people’s experiences. While Bend-It is a relative newcomer to the market (compared to long-time brands such as Adidas and Nike) they do have a fairly large and loyal fanbase.

The majority of the comments and reviews I saw were pretty positive – lots of customers praised the ball’s appearance, which is only natural – it’s certainly a good looking ball. More importantly, they praised its performance.

For instance, John M. said the ball felt “smoother to kick“. He also commented that it “curved more easily“, which is not surprising in light of the 12-panel construction.

A really popular point was the ball’s air retention. Thomas Kilbride mentioned that the ball had the best air retention he had experienced.

Another common theme was how well the Knuckle-It compares to expensive official match balls – happy owners used phrases like “half the price of its competitors” and “the cheapest official match ball I have used“.

Alternatives

Bend-It has made a great name for itself, but it is a fairly new company. If you prefer to buy your sports products from major brands, here are a few suggestions:

1. Adidas Euro Qualifier Official Match Ball 5

Adidas-Euro-Qualifier-Official-Match-Ball

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The Euro Qualifier shows why Adidas is a leader in official match balls. If you’re looking for a very high-quality match ball with the official FIFA seal of approval, but you don’t want to pay over $100, this is a great choice. It doesn’t include the Knuckle-It’s unique visual designs – this is a ball for playing serious matches, not for training.

2. PUMA evoPOWER 1 Statement 15 Ball 5

Puma-Evo-Power-1-Official-Match-Soccer-Ball

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Puma has a long history of producing high-quality products at a lower price point. It may not be the market leader, but it holds its own compared to the giants. Most importantly, quality doesn’t suffer. That’s certainly the case for the “evoPOWER 1 Statement 15”.

The name may be a bit of a mouthful, but the ball is more than adequate for matches and daily use. Again, it doesn’t have any of the features that make the Knuckle-It Pro unique, making this another conservative choice.

3. Nike Ordem V USA Soccer Team Official Match Ball

Nike-Ordem-V-USA-Soccer-Team-Official-Match-Ball

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Any list would be conspicuous without an entry from Nike. This is a company that has weathered the ups and downs in the marketplace and has proven its position as a market leader over the decades. So it should come as no surprise that Nike’s ball is a solid choice.

This ball incorporates “Aerotrac Grooves” which are supposed to stabilize the ball’s flight. It also has a carbon-latex bladder – which offers high responsiveness. In terms of air retention, it’s not as good as the Butyl Bladder inside the Knuckle-It pro.

It also lacks any of the unique features that we mentioned above, such as the Valve Position Marker or Visual Response Color – although Nike has aimed to make this ball more visible with a high-contrast pattern.

Conclusion

As you can see, the Knuckle-It Pro is different from the majority of official match balls. It’s built with a unique purpose – to help players master a specific skill. At the same time, its high-quality construction and FIFA compliant specifications mean it’s a good match ball for general play and real matches.

What sets this ball apart is the way that Bend-It have used visual patterns to provide real feedback for players as they practice kicking. Feedback plays a vital role in learning – accurate feedback reduces the “effort” you spend to master a skill.

If you have to strain your eyes to see the motion and spin of a ball, learning becomes harder and it takes more effort to make progress. Training becomes an uphill struggle, and many give up before they make it.

The Knuckle-It pro tackles the visibility barrier directly – and it makes a dramatic difference. The unique design makes it easier to hit the “sweet spot” for a powerful shot every time. It makes it easy to track the balls trajectory and spin, so you can see and feel your skills improve as you practice. Click here to check it out now!

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